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Bull World Health Organ. 1973;48(3):323-34.

BCG vaccination of children against leprosy: seven-year findings of the controlled WHO trial in Burma.


A controlled study of the efficacy of BCG vaccination for the prevention of leprosy began in Burma at the end of August 1964. This paper presents the findings after 7 years-i.e., the results of 6 annual follow-up examinations up to the end of June 1971. The incidence rate in BCG-vaccinated children 0-4 years of age at intake was lower than that in children in the control group. The protection conferred by BCG was relatively low (44%) and applied only to early cases of leprosy, the great majority tuberculoid cases. BCG vaccination did not protect household contacts or children 5-14 years of age who were not exposed in the household. This reduction must be interpreted in the light of several factors: form of leprosy, bacterial status, lepromin reactivity, evolution of cases, and level of endemicity. Consequently it does not seem probable that the reduction in incidence would substantially affect the pattern or trend of the disease in an area similar to that where the study is being carried out; the probability would be much lower if not nil in regions of relatively low endemicity (1-2 per 1 000 or less).

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